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Professor Robert Nichols Named McKnight Land-Grant Professor

February 8, 2017

Professor Robert Nichols

Professor Robert Nichols
Professor Robert Nichols

The Office of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost has announced that nine faculty members have been named as the 2017-2019 McKnight Land-Grant Professors. One of the those named is the Department of Political Science Professor Robert Nichols. The goal of the McKnight Land-Grant program is to advance the careers of new assistant professors at a crucial point in their professional lives. The Professorship includes a research grant of $25,000 in each of the two years of the award, to be used for expenditures related to the recipient's research and scholarly work.

Professor Nichols is a political theorist whose research focuses on modern political theory, indigeneity and settler colonialism, and imperialism in political thought. His current project is titled, "Land, Conflict, and Indigenous Dispossession in North America."

In recent decades, conflicts over land-use in North America have accelerated and intensified. These disputes bring together a complex set of concerns regarding energy, the environment, labor and security, but perhaps most interestingly, have also sparked a new wave of Native American political mobilization. Professor Nichols investigates these conflicts by situating them in a longer historical lineage, asking: "How has the historical development of Anglo-American property relations come to inflect and inform contemporary struggles over land? How has a history of colonization shaped understandings of such key concepts as property, expropriation, eminent domain, and dispossession? How can the recovery of a more complex and plural set of histories offer resources for reframing and resolving current conflicts?"

Professor Nichols joined the University of Minnesota after serving as Humboldt Research Fellow in the Department of Philosophy at the Humboldt University of Berline (2013-2015). His areas of research specialization include contemporary European philosophy and political theory (especially Critical Theory, Marx and Marxism, and Foucault). He also specializes in the history of political thought as it pertains to imperialism and colonialism in the 19th century and the contemporary politics of settler colonialism and indigeneity in the Anglo-American world. This semester he is teaching POL 3272 What Makes Political Community, a course created with the support of a National Endowment for the Humanities grant. He is also affiliated with the Department of American Indian Studies.